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Animation, epilepsy and all the things you can do with LEGOs

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There are a lot of things that LEGOs are known for: building elaborate worlds and models with small blocks, providing meticulous, mildly OCD adults with a pastime, getting caught in the throats of small children. But it's that second subset that's creating a legacy for the building toy that lesser building toys like Lincoln Logs and Constructs simply cannot claim -- things like making massively multiplayer online games (like LEGO Universe, based in Louisville), building giant cities and making films.

"A lot of animators get their start by pulling out their old LEGOs and sort of animating them," explains Dylan Otto Krider, the man behind this weekends Build-A-Brickbuster extravaganza, an entire weekend devoted to all the things you can do with LEGOs and animation. "You have these ready-made figures in a set, and it's relatively easy to create stop-motion films with them. It's a great way to make animated films without having to draw everything."

Plus, you can put together some pretty wicked shit. See, for example, this reimagining of the -- let's just call it the "awesomest" scene from The Matrix, which uses those clear button LEGOs to replicate the effect of a slow-mo speeding bullet. It's badass:

Videos like that one provide the building blocks, so to speak, of Krider's Build-A-Brickbuster contest, which for the better part of the summer has been challenging animators to give LEGO stop-motion their best shot; the centerpiece of this weekend's festivities is the awards ceremony Saturday at 7 p.m., where the best films will be shown and prizes, provided by LEGO, natch, will be handed out -- the winning films, by the way, will be decided by legendary subversive animator

Bill Plympton


But that's far from the only draw. Among the other attractions slated for the weekend are a giant LEGO city called Joanna Town, a huge model of the Colorado Governor's Mansion by professional LEGO artist Duane Hess, workshops with the likes of International Animated Film Society and local stop-motion animator Gio Toninelo, who runs the annual G.I. Joe Fest, and a showcase of some of the best LEGO films ever made on Saturday at 2 p.m., featuring shorts like the one above and this one, which remakes the Monty Python's "Camelot."

As for the city, you can purchase a "lot" in it and bring your own building to fill it -- slots are "shanty town," "the suburbs" and "uptown," and while if you really want to do it right, you should

purchase one in advance

, you can also wait til the day of and build one with the bricks provided (you can't take it home, though).

Why Joanna Town? Sadly, in memory of Krider's sister, Caitlyn Joanna Krider, who died from an epileptic seizure, and her daughter Destiny Star, who suffered sever brain damage from the same; all proceeds from the entire event go to the Epilepsy Foundation of Colorado. Nevertheless, for what's offered, it's a crazy cheap date: Most of the events are free or in the $3-5 range, and a full weekend pass for everything is just $25 ($10 for students and seniors, kids ages 10 and under are free). It happens all weekend at the Broomfield Auditorium; find a full schedule and tickets here.

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